The Old Hrodna Castle (also known as the Hrodna Upper Castle and Bathory's Castle) dates from the 11th century as the seat of a dynasty of Black Ruthenian rulers, descended from a younger son of Yaroslav the Wise of Kiev. The 13th-century keep of the castle belonged to a type of Belarusian defensive tower represented by the Tower of Kamyanyets. Vytautas the Great added five Brick Gothic towers in 1391-98, transforming the castle into one of his main residences. Casimir IV Jagiellon also favoured Hrodna over Lithuania's official capital. It was there that the Polish Crown was offered to him, and it was there that he died in 1495.
The next notable tenant of the castle was Stephen Báthory who envisaged Hrodna as the capital of his vast empire in Eastern Europe. He engaged Scotto of Parma to replace the Vytautas Castle with his own residence in the advanced Renaissance taste of Northern Italy. After Bathory's death in Hrodna in 1586, his pet project was abandoned. The citadel was devastated by the Russians during a Russo-Polish War in 1655.
The castle's revival was owing to Krzysztof Zygmunt Pac who raised sufficient funds to finance the refurbishing of the royal residence. The restored castle was selected by King Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki of Poland as the location for every third Sejm of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The castle suffered extensive damage during the Great Northern War, forcing the royal court to move into the New Hrodna Castle.
After the partitions of Poland the castle was given over to the Russian army and housed a barracks. The authorities of interwar Poland restored the chamber of the ambassadors and the Sejm Hall. In 1925, the former royal palace opened on historical and archaeological museum. At present the castle is located the main exhibition of Grodno Museum of History and Archeology.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.